Three Coppa Italia in a row!
First-half goals from Dani Alves and Leonardo Bonucci see Juventus east past Lazio and make history with a third consecutive Coppa Italia trophy, their 12th overall
Juventus wrote yet another chapter of Italian football history at the Stadio Olimpico on Wednesday night as goals from Dani Alves and Leonardo Bonucci saw them cruise past Lazio to seal a third consecutive Coppa Italia crown, their 12th overall.
In control throughout, the Bianconeri put one hand on the trophy within the first 25 minutes as Alves coolly volleyed home at the back post before Bonucci steered into the far corner both from Alex Sandro assists.
A spirited Lazio response followed after the break but Massimiliano Allegri’s men rarely looked like letting their lead slip.
A breathless opening to the game may well have produced a very different outcome with both Juventus and Lazio spurning good chances to seize an early advantage; Gonzalo Higuain’s stinging volley from range was pushed away by goalkeeper Thomas Strakosha and Baldé Keita was unfortunate to be denied by the near post after he had slipped away from Bonucci.
From then on, this was a one-team Coppa Italia final. Since recovering from a compound fracture of his leg in Genoa in January, Alves has become Massimiliano Allegri’s go-to man for the big occasions and the Brazilian allowed his reputation grow even further at the Stadio Olimpico.
Appearing in his 30th final of an extraordinary career, Dani took another step in his recent conversion from right-back to right winger meeting compatriot Alex Sandro’s superb cross from the left on the volley, the bounce taking the ball away from Strakosha and into the far corner.
One would have become two moments later were it not for the fine reflexes of Lazio’s Albanian goalkeeper. Dybala’s swerving shot was palmed into the feet of Alves, the number 23 rolled a square pass into Higuain who was somehow denied by the feet of Strakosha from a matter of yards.
By now Lazio were reeling and a second Juve goal inside 25 minutes came as little surprise given the direction of play. Alex Sandro was once again involved, improvising a flick-on from Dybala’s near-post corner for Bonucci to guide home from the six-yard line for his fifth strike of the season.
The introduction of Felipe Anderson from the bench shortly after the interval injected some much-needed impetus into Lazio’s play, immediately causing trouble for a thereto comfortable Bianconeri backline.
First, the Brazilian flashed a shot across goal which Neto smartly turned around the post, then stood up a cross to the back post for Ciro Immobile which Andrea Barzagli unwittingly nudged towards goal. More excellent reflexes from Juve’s goalkeeper kept the scores at 2-0.
Higuain slammed a volley into the body of Basta before rolling a pass across an empty goalmouth and Luis Alberto shot straight at Neto from distance as the tie headed towards its closing stages.
Immobile somehow contrived to head high and wide from two yards out following Wallace’s flick-on 11 minutes from time, a further and definitive sign – if it were needed - that this indeed would be Juventus’ night.
Another instinctive save from Strakosha would prevent Higuain from adding a late third – on the back of more brilliant play from the irrepressible Alves – but it would do little to affect the direction of the Coppa Italia trophy which was heading back to Turin for the third year in a row.
One down, two to go.